Let’s pretend I’m looking for a job in tech. I navigate to your careers page, and the first thing I see is a photo. In the photo are 10 people hovered over a ping-pong table. Sometimes it’s a foosball table, or a pool table. There are people drinking what looks like beer, laughing, foosing all over the place, having a great time. One is petting a dog. Some have their hands in the air, though I can’t exactly tell why. Is there music in the background? Are they cheering for the game? Who are these people? Ten out of ten of them are male, and 100 percent of them are white. Hell, even Rick’s dog made it to the photo. But women? People of color? Nope.
Let’s update the photo. The photo now has some women, or some people of color, but not both. (This seems to be common in technology companies’ career pages.) This is better, but has problems. You are still asking me to be the first one, the test dummy, the litmus test.
I say to myself, “The photo they have chosen with intent does not reflect the company culture. It’s just a photo.” I decide to stay on the site, and read the section where you list perks of working at your company. You list the industry standards; competitive salary, medical and dental, etc. That’s fine; I keep reading.
You describe your employees as ninjas, and silly. Silly ninjas. Or maybe superheroes. You offer up free snacks, free beer. There is no mention of work-life balance, funding for education and training, maternity leave, or paternity leave.
I’m pretty sure I’m never going to be a parent. Which is fine; I’ve been told I’m the world’s best auntie. However, I want to work at a company that takes care of people who do. Not just snack-eating ninja superheroes. Actual real-life, human parents.
Let’s pretend that you do add maternity leave, paternity leave, and education to the site. Is alcohol a perk I see before, or after maternity leave? Why? What message does this send?
You describe the work as meaningful, even though your product doesn’t solve any real-world problems, or put your customers in a better position than they were before they used your product. Not that it has to; products are products and people need jobs. I get it.
I’m not saying that your product has to fix climate change, end poverty, or prevent reality TV stars from running for president. Meaningful work can be something as simple as providing folks a way to support themselves, people from other cultures to connect, or help keep a business running. When you say that the work is meaningful, but we would both agree that it is not, I side-eye your career page. And so do some people looking for jobs.
Now that you’ve read this, go to your career page. Look at the photo. Consider the benefits, what order the benefits are in, how you describe your ideal candidate, and current staff.
Who are you trying to hire? Why might your career page not attract the talent you are looking for, or folks who empathize with them? Why are you so obsessed with ninjas?
A version of this essay previously appeared on Medium.